After nearly two years of bitterness and rancour, the United States will elect its 45th President on Tuesday. The winner will inherit an anxious nation, angry and distrustful of leaders in Washington. The President will preside over an economy that is improving but still leaving many behind, and a military less extended abroad than eight years ago, but grappling with new terror threats.
Whether the glass ceiling shatters or not, precedent will.
Never before has the country had a woman as President, not to mention the spouse of an ex-President. Never before has the country had a President like, well, Donald Trump, unique in lacking the public-service background that everyone in our lifetimes and deeper into the past brought to the office (both his weakness and his strength). Whether the 45th President is Hillary Clinton or the billionaire outsider, the U.S. is turning a corner.
The road ahead
Ms. Clinton enters Election Day with multiple paths to victory, while Mr. Trump must win most of the roughly dozen battleground States up in order to clinch 270 Electoral College votes. The control of the Senate is also at stake, with Democrats needing to net four seats if Ms. Clinton wins the White House.
The latest (all times in IST):
7 p.m.: Hillary Clinton casts her vote early Tuesday near her home in New York State.
Chanting “Madam President,” about 150 supporters turn out to cheer on the Democratic nominee who voted with husband Bill Clinton at an elementary school near their home in Chappaqua.
“I’m so happy, I’m just incredibly happy,” said a smiling Ms. Clinton as she emerged from the polling station, shaking hands, mingling and chatting with the crowd.
“All my friends and my neighbours, it makes me so happy.”
5.15 p.m.: Democratic vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine casts his ballot for president in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia.
Mr. Kaine and his wife, Anne Holton, vote shortly after polls opened at 6 a.m. at a retirement community near their home.
Mr. Kaine was cheered by supporters waiting in line.
After voting, he spoke to reporters where he encouraged Americans to vote and said that if elected, he and running mate would try and bring the country together.
“The sign of a vigorous democracy is one where a lot of people participate,” he said.
3.20 p.m.: In Philadelphia, where America’s democracy took root, with tens of thousands shivering in the cold, Barack and Michelle Obama passed the torch to Hillary Clinton in an emotional but anxious plea to elect her president.
Though the book won’t close on his presidency until Inauguration Day, Mr. Obama’s frenzied, last-minute push for Ms. Clinton was a farewell tour of the nation. As he crisscrossed Michigan, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania on Monday, he waxed nostalgic, told old stories and teared up as he thanked the nation for betting, improbably, on “a skinny guy with a funny name.”
“The answer’s yes,” Mr. Obama said in Independence Mall, not far from the Liberty Bell. He said he was still a believer, “and that’s because of you.”
“In the letters you’ve written me, in the tears you’ve shed for a lost loved one, I’ve seen again and again your goodness and your strength and your heart,” Mr. Obama said.
Then the Obamas and the Clintons embraced onstage — The last Democratic president and the current one; the first black president and the woman who, on Tuesday, may break yet another historic barrier.
3.15 p.m.: Adding anxiety and uncertainty in the weeks before Election Day were Republican candidate Donald Trump’s unsupported warnings of a rigged election, fears of voter intimidation at the polls and concerns about election systems being hacked. New voter regulations in more than a dozen states also held the potential to sow confusion at polling places.
In the last week alone, Democrats went to court in seven states seeking to halt what they claim were efforts by Republicans and the Trump campaign to deploy a network of poll watchers hunting for voter fraud. Republicans have disputed claims they are planning to intimidate voters, and judges in a handful of the cases have found no evidence the two camps are coordinating.
“Hopefully it’s relatively calm. Hopefully it doesn’t blow up. But this hasn’t been a regular election year,” said Wendy Weiser, head of the democracy program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU’s Law School.
2.45 p.m.: Virginia could be a harbinger for the night. An early win for Ms. Clinton in that State bodes well for her; a contest that drags on until 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. EST (6.30 a.m. or 7.30 a.m. IST, Wednesday) could mean a good night for Mr. Trump. Results begin to come out when polls close at 7 p.m. in Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia. More waves come just after 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., when polls will have closed in 30 states and the District of Columbia.
Mr. Trump and Ms. Clinton fought fiercely over Florida, a big prize. Mr. Trump also made an audacious play for Minnesota and scared Clinton in Michigan, which drew both the Democratic nominee and President Barack Obama on the campaign’s final day.
Republicans fretted about Utah, normally as GOP-friendly as can be. The state was courted by an independent who tapped anti-Trump sentiment among the state’s many Mormons.
1.54 p.m.: The first votes were cast on Tuesday in New Hampshire, traditionally the first in the nation to vote on Election Day. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton registered her first ‘win’ in the 2016 elections by four votes to two against her Republican rival Donald Trump soon after midnight in the remote northeastern part of the U.S.
The first votes of the election were cast, just after midnight, by the residents of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire. Ms. Clinton captured four of Dixville Notch’s eight votes while her Republican rival Trump received two, Libertarian Gary Johnson received one vote, and there was even one vote for Mitt Romney.
Hillary, Trump make final push before elections
Ms. Clinton and Mr. Trump blitzed through battleground States on Monday in a final bid to energise supporters. Ms. Clinton, backed by an emotional appeal from President Barack Obama, urged voters to embrace a “hopeful, inclusive, bighearted America,” while Mr. Trump vowed to “beat the corrupt system.”
The candidates rallied voters late into the night, a frenzied end to a bitter election year that has laid bare the nation’s deep economic and cultural divides. Ms. Clinton and Mr. Trump were both nostalgic at times, looking back fondly at a campaign that has put each on the brink of the presidency.
Ms. Clinton campaigned with confidence, buoyed by FBI director James Comey’s announcement on Sunday that he would not recommend criminal charges against her following a new email review. The FBI inquiry had sapped a surging momentum at a crucial moment in the race, though she still heads into election day with multiple paths to the 270 electoral college votes needed to become the nation’s first female president.
Ms. Clinton closed her campaign alongside the last two Democrats to occupy the Oval Office, Mr. Obama and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, as well as first lady Michelle Obama.